(drawing by Josh Frankel)
From the Associated Press :
Serbia and Montenegro’s army has filed charges against former NBA star Vlade Divac for evading the military draft.
Divac, 37, was obliged by the law to join the compulsory six-month military service by the age of 35, the state prosecutors’ office said Wednesday.
It asked Serbia and Montenegro’s foreign ministry “to determine Divac’s citizenship and his home address” to be able to carry out the legal proceedings and hand him the draft notice.
I’m not sure which is more depressing ; that Serbia and Montenegro are desperate for the military services of a 37 year old with a a bad back, or that said country’s military strategy apparently involves a lot of flopping.
While covering the Yankees re-signing Hideki Matsui to a 4 year deal, Newsday’s Jon Heyman and Jim Baumbach slipped in the following ;
The Yankees were discouraged by Scott Boras’ asking price of $84 million over seven years for Johnny Damon, so they will look seriously at signing Brian Giles with the thought of using a rotation in centerfield.
The Yankees are thinking about offering Giles, 34, close to $30 million for three years, but they want to investigate whether he seriously will consider coming to New York, a person familiar with the situation said.
Although signing Giles would add a much-needed small-ball type of player to the Yankees’ lineup – he reaches base often, runs the bases well and hits a ton of doubles – he is not a true centerfielder, having started only 30 games there in the past five years.
The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton reports that Reggie Sanders and Elmer Dessens are the Royals’ top two free agent targets this off-season. Should be quite the stampede to the ticket office if either or both are signed.
With an 8 game package of Thursday and Saturday contests still up for grabs in 2006, the NFL has the requisite bait to attract a partner for a fledgling new channel, writes the NY Times’ Richard Sandomir.
A strategy appears to be evolving: create a new all-sports network, and use it as leverage to get more subscribers for the NFL Network. Perhaps operators would get a discount if they took both. It may be difficult to sell both networks into the market simultaneously, but the N.F.L. will try.
“We hope our potential programming partner can help us get more exposure, even without putting games on the NFL Network,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft added, “If we can have the new multisport platform, and the NFL Network continues to grow, that would be the ideal solution.”
He resisted the idea of turning the NFL Network into the all-sports channel. “We want it to be all football,” said Kraft, who, like Jones, is on the N.F.L. broadcast committee, which is chaired by Pat Bowlen, the Denver Broncos’ owner.
The league could go solo and award itself the eight games, which would vastly increase its distribution and let it raise fees to its cable and satellite subscribers. That route would deprive it of upfront money from a partner but would give the league all the upside in revenues and long-term equity growth. But, Bowlen said, “I think we’re leaning toward a partner.”
The advantage of being the N.F.L. is that it always has more TV suitors than rights to sell. The Thursday-Saturday package, the smallest of all packages, has come along at the right time to satisfy the ambition of a crowd of media giants, including Comcast, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, ESPN, Turner Sports, NBC Universal and CBS, with its newly acquired CSTV.
Though applauding Major League Baseball for taking decisive action in the battle against a) steroids and b) the Players Association, Newsday’s Jon Heyman suggests the war is not quite won.
Bud Selig gets kudos for sticking to the very penalties he proposed many months ago and especially for insisting that amphetamines — “greenies,” in clubhouse slang — be included on the banned list for the first time. Selig’s head clearly has come far out of the clouds.
And yet, he sounded, maybe, well … a little light-headed when he suggested baseball was on the road to “eradicating” steroids.
Introducing … neonjoint.com, a Web site tipped to me by a doctor who’s been around baseball for years and intended to help players and mere mortals beat drug tests.
Neonjoint.com isn’t hiding a thing. It says right there on its home page, “Attention Visitor: Look no further if you are serious about using a safe and legal product to pass drug testing that actually will work! … These products are NON DETECTABLE by drug testing labs.”
I’d suspect it’s all hooey, but my doctor friend insisted he knows of actual major-league players who are using this site as their road map to cheating.
“They have specific directions on how to pass every test known to man,” the baseball doctor said. “And this site gets changed every other day.”
My anonymous doctor friend isn’t so sure it’s even possible to eradicate steroids. Here’s how he assessed yesterday’s news: “The [inclusion of] greenies are good, and the stricter penalties are great … But what you have to be aware of is that while there are doctors and scientists getting paid some amount of money to make these tests, there are doctors on the dark side getting paid tremendous amounts of money for circumventing anything that’s on paper.
From the NY Daily News’ Bob Raissman.
Atlanta baseball sources say Hall of Famer Don Sutton, the longtime Braves analyst on TBS, is on a short list of SNY candidates.
Sutton, sources said, has already talked to SNY brass about the possibility of becoming the network’s primary Mets analyst.
Last week, after he signed Cohen, SNY boss Jon Litner said the network could name its Mets analyst within two week.
From the Independent’s Jason Bennetto.
Grumpy old men suffering from “Victor Meldrew syndrome” are in danger of demonising all young people as yobs and hooligans, a police chief has warned.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick, who is in charge of youth crime for the Metropolitan Police, argued that “youthful exuberance” that would have been tolerated 20 years ago was increasingly being described as antisocial behaviour.
Mr Paddick partly blamed the widely held belief that today’s youths are more disrespectful and antisocial than previous generations on people who resembled the curmudgeonly Meldrew character (above) in the television series One Foot in the Grave. He told The Independent: “Behaviour by young people that was tolerated 20 or 30 years ago is now considered to be unacceptable. Society is perhaps less tolerant of exuberant behaviour than it has been in the past.
“When kids used to play football in the street and hit a car people used to not be particularly concerned about it. Now it would probably result in a heated argument in the street between the car owner and the young person.”
Indeed, whatever happened to the good old days when there was so much more tolerance and compassion for young people?
…and snub Tony Rolletti.
From the Alameda Times-Star’s Andrew Baggerly.
Ned Colletti, one of the most integral members of the Giants front office, will be introduced as the Dodgers’ general manager in a news conference Wednesday, ANG newspapers has learned.
A high-ranking industry source confirmed that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt offered the position to Colletti after a series of follow-up interviews Monday and Tuesday. Colletti was selected over current Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng, who had become the first woman to interviewfor a major league GM position.
The hiring represents a huge loss for the Giants and GM Brian Sabean, who gave Colletti a remarkable amount of autonomy for an assistant GM and relied heavily on his skills as a contract negotiator.
Colletti established himself as an elite negotiator, often constructing deals that allowed the Giants to add top-quality free agents despite a limited budget. This past winter, Colletti negotiated back-loaded deals that allowed the Giants to sign catcher Mike Matheny, closer Armando Benitez and shortstop Omar Vizquel. In more recent years, Colletti also was allowed to pursue trades, and was the driving force behind the highly successful deal that brought Randy Winn to the Giants in July.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the New York Mets have offered OF Mike Cameron to Baltimore, San Diego, Arizona and the Nassau County Police Department.
The Padres want Cameron to play center field at spacious Petco Park. They would prefer not to trade right-handed reliever Akinori Otsuka, who would set up for Scott Linebrink in the likely event that Trevor Hoffman departs as a free agent. But it’s possible the Padres could part with a hitter like Xavier Nady, whom the Mets could use in a platoon with Mike Jacobs at first or spin in a bigger deal for Ramirez.
The Orioles also need a center fielder, and their new vice-president of baseball operations, Jim Duquette, signed Cameron as a free agent when he was the Mets’ GM. Right-handed reliever Jorge Julio, 26, has interested the Mets in the past, but he’s coming off his worst season. The Mets surely would prefer right-hander Chris Ray (above), 23, but the Orioles view Ray as a potential long-term replacement for left-handed closer B.J. Ryan, who is expected to depart as a free agent.
The Diamondbacks, another team looking to improve in center, could renew their pursuit of Cameron if they trade right-hander Javier Vazquez, who is guaranteed $24 million over the next two seasons. The D-Backs’ manager Bob Melvin, managed Cameron with the Mariners in 2003, and their new GM, Josh Byrnes, was part of the Red Sox’s front office that targeted Cameron last summer. It’s doubtful the Diamondbacks would trade Chad Tracy, but they’ve got interesting young arms and several top position prospects to offer.
(I’ve already demonstrated that I can’t remember which one of these guy is Sergei and which one is Fedor, but I’m certain a fed-up expert or two will write in).
Cap room for Anaheim, a proven scorer for Columbus, albiet a 35 year old who’s seen better days.
From the Associated Press :
The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired six-time All-Star center Sergei Fedorov on Tuesday from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for forward Tyler Wright, rookie defenseman Francois Beauchemin and a fifth-round pick in 2006.
The Rangers and Maple Leafs are scoreless midway through the first period in Toronto this evening. I’ve had so much coffee today that I’m hallucinating that Don Cherry is losing an arm-wrestling match to Margaret Trudeau every time there’s a lull in the action.
(Albert, before and after the antibiotics)
Congratulations to the city of St. Louis (and, by extension, Will Leitch). Not only have you been named the U.S. Gonorrhea Capitol, but you’re also home to the 2005 National League MVP, Albert Pujols.
Though Phil Mushnick would have us believe that Jay Z holding a small stake in the Nets is a cause for panic, Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller continues to embarrass himself and the league. The Desert Morning News’ Tim Buckley writes in the aftermath of Utah’s 73-62 loss to the Knicks last night.
Larry H. Miller delivered a second-half tongue lashing that witnesses said was an expletive-filled tirade.
After the Jazz were outscored 18-8 in the third quarter, Miller left his usual courtside seat and joined the Jazz’s between-periods huddle.
As it broke up he barked, with words apparently directed at Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. He then moved to the end of the bench, where players including Greg Ostertag and Matt Harpring could be seen getting dressed down. Miller finally turned to the Jazz’s suits ” injured players on the inactive list, including both Kirilenko and Boozer ” and seemed to have heated words for them as well.
“He was vocal,” guard Devin Brown said, “in the fact he spends money on our team, and he wants us to play hard. We need to play harder.”
When Brown was pressed on what Miller said specifically, Ostertag, who was standing nearby, sarcastically told his teammate to share the exact language, then snapped, “It’s a family show,” before walking to the showers in disgust.
…because “‘roids” is so much easier to type than “steroids”. From Newsday’s Jon Heyman.
Major League Baseball and its players union agreed to a new, stricter steroid policy this afternoon. An announcement is expected later today.
The new agreement will call for first-time offenders to be suspended for 50 games, second-time offenders to be suspended for 100 games, and third-time offenders will be banished from baseball for life. Those are the penalties commissioner Bud Selig suggested in his latest proposal.
According to sources, amphetamines will be banned from baseball in the new agreement.
Heyman, though an excellent reporter, fails to ask the question that is undoubtedly on the mind of every basbeball fan on Planet Earth : how will the amphetamine ban impact Rich Garces’ comeback attempt?
Jim Hoffman alert : more stupid sports references laced into rock commentary.
From the San Diego Union Tribune’s Tim Sullivan.
Padres General Manager Kevin Towers declined to discuss David Wells yesterday for fear it might be construed as tampering.
Mick Jagger, however, has no such qualms. You spend your life with Keith Richards and you learn to let some things slide.
During Friday’s concert at Petco Park, the venerable voice of the Rolling Stones made note of the pains taken to protect the playing field and its possible bearing on Wells’ future in San Diego.
“I told management you’d be careful with the sacred dirt of Petco Park,” Jagger told the crowd, “or else David Wells may never return.”
Sympathy For The Devil? You make the call.
As anyone who has heard ‘Primitive Cool’ (admittedly, very few people) can attest, Mick Jagger has a great sense of humor.
(Mike comes through for the Make A Wish Foundation after a young boy’s 3 other choices —- Dan Marino, Dontrelle Willis or a naked woman — are unavailable).
Praying that Mike Lowell’s horrible 2005 was an aberration rather than the begining of the end of his career, other teams are willing to chance on the third baseman writes the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez.
Owed $9 million each of the next two seasons, Lowell is tradable if the Marlins are willing to absorb some of the remaining dollars. According to a front office official who has spoken with the Marlins, they had “a few hits” on Lowell this past week.
With one unidentified team the Marlins discussed a scenario in which they would cover half of Lowell’s remaining salary. They did not discuss any package deals involving Lowell and Carlos Delgado.
“It will get down to how much Florida is willing to pay,” said one official from a club monitoring the Lowell situation.
The Brewers and Orioles were among the teams that might have inquired about Lowell, but they are going with Bill Hall and Melvin Mora at their respective hot corners.
One club that could take him at a discount is the Minnesota Twins. Former Marlin and Lowell friend Mike Redmond last season got in the front office’s ear about acquiring the Gold Glove winner.
Once their general manager situations are resolved, the Dodgers and Red Sox also could look at Lowell.
David Allan Coe once sang “Divers do it deeper”, but don’t tell that to the LA Kings’ Sean Avery (above), who unloaded yesterday to a blushing Rich Hammond of the LA Daily News.
Sean Avery, upset about being fined $1,000 for an alleged diving incident, unleashed his verbal fury Monday after he learned the fine will not be revoked.
“It’s a (expletive) joke and the players’ association is a (expletive) joke,” Avery said.
Avery received the fine after his second diving violation of the season, which took place Nov. 3 at Phoenix. Avery sought to appeal the fine, which the league office issued although Avery was not penalized on the play, but Avery will have to pay, and perhaps pay another fine after Monday’s outburst.
Avery said he took issue not with league referees but with league discipline czar Colin Campbell – who could not be reached for comment Monday – and other NHL officials. Avery said he feels he is being targeted by the league for his outspoken nature.
“No question,” Avery said. “I’m sure (the fine) is just an excuse for the league to do something to me. This is obviously Colin Campbell sitting at his desk, or whoever looks at the tape (making decisions).”
Avery’s frustration with the players’ association stems from the fact that they agreed to let the league make decisions about fines and suspensions for diving penalties by looking at game tapes.
The rule was designed by what Avery sarcastically called “our great competition committee,” which includes four players, four general managers and one owner. Players are fined after their second diving violation and suspended for one game after their fourth violation.
“They let one guy sitting in New York decide what’s a dive and what isn’t,” Avery said. “You don’t know if a guy has a bad ankle or a bursa sac (problem) or what’s wrong with him. They can give you a fine when there’s not even a penalty and in my case it wasn’t even a penalty.”
The Guardian’s Michael Preston and Dominic Fifield prove all too willing to do Bob Kraft’s PR work for him.
Robert Kraft (above) has admitted that his discussions with the Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry left him with “positive feelings” about the Premiership club and further talks are expected to explore the feasibility of a partnership between the US businessman’s Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, and the European Cup holders.
Parry travelled to the US last week as a guest of the Kraft family, who own the Patriots and the Major League Soccer side, the New England Revolution, nominally to observe the match-day operation of the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Liverpool are currently exploring ways of financing the construction of their own new stadium on Stanley Park, although Parry is also keen to encourage a partnership between the Premiership club and the Kraft sports empire.
While the likelihood of the Americans striking a deal to invest in Liverpool remains remote, with the chairman David Moores reluctant to dilute his 51% controlling stake in the club, Kraft did make encouraging noises over the prospect of the two organisations collaborating at some points in the future. “Liverpool has always been a great brand and we have positive feelings about the principles of the company, and Rick Parry looks to be an excellent executive,” said Kraft after seeing his Revolution side lose the MLS Cup game to Los Angeles Galaxy.
Since trading the Patriots season-tickets he had held since 1971 for the owner’s suite in 1994, Kraft has transformed the fortunes of an anonymous NFL team and also those of the Revolution. Three Super Bowl trophies in four years and two MLS Cup appearances during the same period have enshrined the Kraft family as one of the most popular owners in US sport.
Certainly, Kraft’s experience in solving stadium issues, such as those that have prevented Liverpool from committing to building at Stanley Park, could benefit both parties. I think people rate [the Gillette Stadium] as the No1 stadium in America,”” added Kraft.
Indeed, the combined histories of Chavez Ravine, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Lambeau Field and Yankee Stadium pale in comparison to the rich legacy of Gillette.
If Drew Bledsoe doesn’t get knocked out by the Jets’ Mo Lewis in September 2001 how many international newspapers hail Kraft as “one of the most popular owners in US sport”?
ABC7 (Chicago)’s Kevin Ray reports the Rev. Derrick Mosley has been found guilty of trying to extort $20K from Gary Sheffield in exchange for supressing a videotape of the Yankee outfielder’s wife doing the nasty with R. Kelly.
“He was Cinderella for a day,” said Mike Petro, defense attorney. “The thing that Derrick Mosley Didn’t know was that when the clock struck 12, he was going to go back to being Derrick Mosley, no more East Bank Club.”
Reached by phone Monday, Rufus Williams told ABC7 that Gary Sheffield and his wife are relieved it’s over.
“It is my true hope that this verdict will discourage anyone else from seeking to take advantage of celebrities or professional athletes,” Williams said.
Not at Giants games, anyway. The New York Times’ George Vescey on the semi-retirement plans of the man whose imposing voice is as big a part of NY Giants history as Frank Gifford’s arm, Joe Pisarcik’s fumble or LT’s urine sample.
“Blame it on the New Jersey Turnpike.”
These words were enunciated in classic diction yesterday, as Robert Leo Sheppard explained why he was retiring as the public-address announcer for the Giants.
“When the game is over, you face all that traffic before you get home,” Sheppard (above) said, slowly and carefully and unemotionally, as he has done while announcing starting lineups in various stadiums in three states.
Fifty years have a nice round feel to them. Sheppard has been doing Yankees games for 55 years and will continue to do so.
“The Yankees just offered me a two-year contract, which I think was very nice of them,” Sheppard said.
He has been the dignified voice of the two most traditional sports teams in the New York area, becoming identified with the Yankees by the sheer volume of games, but he also became an integral part of Sunday afternoons wherever the Giants’ home stadium was at the moment.
Along with the Mara family, Sheppard was the enduring constant of the Giants as they schlepped from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium to temporary sites at the Yale Bowl and Shea Stadium before moving to New Jersey and Giants Stadium in October 1976.
That is a lot of turnpike miles, a lot of traffic jams, miles of backed-up red-brake lights, millions of honking horns. At least at Yankee Stadium, Sheppard and a friend who drives him can slip into a waiting elevator upon the last out, duck into the adjacent team parking lot and slip into the traffic in the first wave.
At Giants Stadium, there is no way to beat the traffic back to Baldwin, on Long Island. And even the trip to the game is an ordeal because Sheppard must first attend Mass, often reading the Scriptures to the congregation.
“If ever there was a voice of God to sports fans, it would be Bob Sheppard,” John Mara said yesterday.
The Las Vegas Review Journal reported last week that Sin City’s KSFN has hired former UNLV reprobate Jerry Tarkanian to host a Saturday afternoon chat show.
No word yet on which broadcast or web outlet will be hosting the Lloyd Daniels podcast, but I’m doing everything I can to find out.
Apparently, losing to the Knicks is justification enough for the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin to dump on Rick Adelman. High Five Hoops School’s Brian McCormick begs to differ.
The Maloofs and the Sacramento media created an unrealistic perception of an improved Kings’ roster which led to unrealistic expectations. In their pursuit of talent, Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs ignored simple facts: the Kings’ whole was far greater than the sum of its parts. Vlade Divac and Chris Webber remained effective players despite being too slow and too injured; Stojakovic is a star in the Kings’ system, while he’d be a 3rd or 4th option elsewhere; ditto Bibby; Miller is an All-Star in the Kings’ system, a soft, non-rebounding back-up center on a non-contender otherwise.
However, Petrie decied to build around the core of Miller-Peja-Bibby, three jump shooting, non-rebounding, non-defensive presences. To be successful with this core, the team needs to outscore people; to score effectively, they need players who fit the system; Garcia and Martin fit the system. The others do not. The Kings have two teams: one thrives on the system and the other does not.
The problem is not the coaching or Peja. The problem is the make-up of the team and its inability to fit together. Signing Bonzi Wells and expecting him to be a fifth option is pure folly; signing Abdur-Rahim to play the high post makes little sense. However, putting Wells or Abdur-Rahim in the low post disrupts the offense.
Bibby-Miller-Peja play in a Kings’ system predicated on cuts, screens and passing to create shots; Abdur-Rahim and Wells create their own shots with the dribble. There is a place for a creative player who can create his own shots (Bobby Jackson), but it is as a complementary player, not as the focale point.
(Eddy Curry picks the wrong time to emulate Cedric Ceballos)
New York’s Quentin Richardson seems to have finally found his stroke, having drained 4 3′s in as many attempts tonight against the turnover-crazy Jazz. Richardson and Jamal Crawford have combined for 22 points, with the Knicks leading 53-42 with about a minute to go in the 3rd quarter. Utah are struggling without Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko or Keith McLeod ; AK47 is expected to miss up to two weeks.
From Reuters :
Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry threatened legal action Monday against a British comedian who wins laughs by portraying the central Asian state as a country populated by drunks who enjoy cow-punching as a sport.
Sacha Baron Cohen, who portrays a spoof Kazakh television presenter Borat (above) in his “Da Ali G Show,” has won fame ridiculing Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth largest country yet still little known to many in the West, on British and U.S. channels.
Cohen appears to have drawn official Kazakh ire after he hosted the annual MTV Europe Music Awards show in Lisbon earlier this month as Borat, who arrived in an Air Kazakh propeller plane controlled by a one-eyed pilot clutching a vodka bottle.
“We do not rule out that Mr. Cohen is serving someone’s political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way,” Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Yerzhan Ashykbayev told a news briefing.
“We reserve the right to any legal action to prevent new pranks of the kind.” He declined to elaborate.
Cohen’s earlier jokes about the Central Asian state include claims that the people would shoot a dog and then have a party, and that local wine was made from fermented horse urine.
This, of course, is not the first time that Cohen has rubbed someone the wrong way with the Borat character. And we’re still anticipating complaints from the Canadian Anti-Defamation League over Ali G’s recent sitdown with Steve Nash
As if this story weren’t sad enough, it would appear as though thanksgiving dinner with Theo Epstein is probably cancelled.
From the Associated Press :
Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd (above) surrendered Monday to federal agents in Tupelo to face charges he threatened a former girlfriend.
John G. Raucci, special agent in charge of the FBI in Mississippi, and U.S. Attorney Jim M. Greenlee said in a statement that Boyd allegedly made five telephone calls in which he threatened to harm the ex-girlfriend, who also was his business associate, and possibly her son. Authorities would not say why no firm accusation was made concerning the woman’s son and did not reveal their names.
Boyd was indicted by a federal grand jury in Mississippi earlier this month. The 45-year-old Meridian native, now lives in East Providence, R.I., and plays baseball for the Brockton Rox, an independent minor league team in the Canadian-American League.
(the selection of available Billy Wagner jpgs just isn’t doing it for me today, so you’ll have to settle for Richard Wagner, instead)
The hardcore amongst you probably learned of this about 9 hours ago, so apologies for the redundancy. The Newark Star-Ledger’s Don Burke writes that much the way Omar Minaya went above and beyond financially to win the services of Pedro Martinez, the Mets GM is ready to do much the same in order to secure his closer of choice.
The Mets are prepared to outbid the Philadelphia Phillies — and every other team, for that matter — in their pursuit of free-agent closer Billy Wagner. Whether they land him or not will depend on whether Wagner, who makes his home in gentile Charlottesville, Va., would rather pitch in Philadelphia, where he has comfortably spent the last two seasons, or relocate to New York. It surely won’t, the Mets believe, come down to money.
If they haven’t done so already — general manager Omar Minaya and his staff have gone underground since their return home late Friday from last week’s GM meetings and their home visits with free-agent catchers Bengie Molina and Ramon Hernandez — the Mets could make an offer to the 34-year-old left-hander as soon as today.
Philadelphia, with a new GM in Pat Gillick, is scheduled to meet with Wagner and his agent on Wednesday. The club has already made an “informal” offer of two years with an option for a third year that will vest based on his number of appearances. The Mets are willing to guarantee three years at $10 million each and, if necessary, throw in a fourth. It was that guaranteed fourth year Pedro Martinez away from the Boston Red Sox last winter.